When haikus began to emerge in the 17th Century, they were perplexing and completely novel. How can you possibly evoke emotion with so few words? How can you paint a mental image in three short lines?
But these 17-syllable (the typical structure for the English language) poems can do just that, like “The Old Pond” (circa 1686) by Matuso Bashō.
An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.
In 17 syllables, you’re transported to the pond. The frog, the water, the mist, the reeds. You experience a quick, but complete, story. Bashō did what most of us “branders” are called to do today – to come up with the essential elements of a story and tell it through the right imagery, the right emotion, the right hook.
Now, more than ever, you have to use your time wisely when speaking to your audience. Attention spans are short and every second counts. In fact, Chartbeat released findings earlier this year that the average website visitor spends less than 15 seconds on any given page. Let’s say we’ve got a one-page site with five sections and we assume the visitor gives equal weight to each one – that’s three seconds per section.
When developing copy, why don’t we use the few seconds we have visitors’ undivided attention wisely, and get to the heart of what they need to know? At Proof, we’re big on declaration statements – who you are, what you do (best), why it matters. Your declaration should mimic a well-crafted haiku – lending powerful, valuable imagery that tells your brand’s story quickly and clearly.
Recently, I led a “branding haiku” activity with my Proof teammates. After a few initial “um…what?” looks, we grabbed some Post-Its and markers and started crafting our masterpieces in 5-7-5 pentameter (I really wish I had recorded our efforts – it turned into a serious competition!). Our instructions:
Write a “branded” haiku for Wilson’s Distillery. What makes Wilson’s different is totally up to you. Are their products served in a posh bar? Is it a patriotic company? Is it old? Is it new? Tell their story. Get creative.
Restrictions of the haiku structure made us concentrate, close our eyes, and imagine ourselves sitting down with two fingers of Wilson’s at the distillery – then share that experience, that story, in just a few short words.
What is your brand haiku? Challenge yourself to clear through the clutter and get to the point. How can you tell the story of your brand in a few short syllables? Remember the pond? The frog, the water, the mist, the reeds. Bashō’s haiku created an experience and evoked an emotion.
Attention spans are limited and timing is everything, but you still have an outstanding opportunity – in just a few short words – to invite your audience to be a part of your story.